The city of Kazan, with its millenary multicultural history, has been largely transformed by a series of international events hosted in Kazan, such as the 2013 Universiade or the 2018 World Cup matches: the infrastructures have been modernized and the connections have been improved.
Besides Russia recently announced that is planning to develop the Moscow-Kazan highway link. This connection will run from the country’s capital to Kazan: construction work on the 729km highway is of prime importance for Russia and will form part of the nation’s much wider economic recovery plan. The route of the improved M7 highway will run past Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod and Cheboksary, with a bridge spanning the Volga River. The highway construction and upgrade work is expected to cost close to US$11 billion in all.
Building the improved highway link is expected to take four years, with work commencing later in 2020. For people accustomed to speed, like us biker, four years is a very long time, especially for sexy and misterious Russian motorgirl Veter, who lives amongst the city of Moscow and Kazan and can’t wait to reach each city directly with her Ducati 959. As a proud urban commuter she loves to ride her superbike speeding up in the city streets, but also as a newbie Veter knows that riding on the highway is a total different thing: the higher speeds and sea of cars around her can seem very intimidating. Anyway riding on the highway doesn’t have to be scary: in fact, highway riding is probably safer than scrambling around on surface roads, since everybody’s going the same direction at more or less the same speed, and, critically, there’s no cross traffic to dodge.
By the way, after a while, most bikers develop a sort of sixth sense in traffic and learn how to move through cars and motorcycles. Veter, who face every day the crazy Russian traffic, won’t have any problem in dealing with the new highway, that’s for sure. But if she keeps dressing like that, I bet that even the most careful and vigilant biker she met will get big trouble to keep his/her eye on the road!
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In that two-decades-plus, we have seen this middleweight offering from Ducati outgrow the Supersport Championship rules, and it now approaches near liter-bike capacities – an inch-by-inch search for more power and performance.
Updated once again for the 2020 model year, it will be the Ducati Panigale V2 keeping those v-twin hopes alive for Ducatisti around the world, as the Italian brand continues to offer this curious motorcycle.
Of course, better minds will know that the Ducati Panigale V2 is not a middleweight, as Ducati so often calls it (though to be fair, the term “super-mid” is starting to be used), but the oddly displaced machine is an excellent track bike, especially for those who have grown tired of chasing absolute horsepower, and instead want to make their lap times with actual on-bike talent.
The changes to the bike are wide-ranging, despite sharing its core components with its predecessor. New styling matches the Panigale V4 and includes a double layer fairing, new side panels and a redesigned tail as well as LED headlights tucked into exaggerated air intakes. An uprated engine manages to be both cleaner and more powerful, more on that later.
At the back, the bike gets a more exotic look courtesy of a single-sided swingarm that shows off the rear wheel – and that’s sure to cause division. The stubby exhaust helps the appearance, as it’s a vast improvement compared to the over-and-under design that was added to the 959 to meet comply with Euro 4.
Power is up 5hp to 155hp at 10,750rpm, while torque rises by about 1.5lbft to 76.7lbft (104Nm) at 9000rpm. It’s an “entry level sports bike!” says Ducati, and the first step into the exotic superbike category. Yes, fine it’s not as focus-bendingly ferocious as a Panigale V4 but of course it’s down some 50 Italian horses which is only properly noticeable when plundering out of the final corner at Jerez, a second gear hairpin where you can run wide over the kerbs on the exit and keep the throttle pinned. Otherwise, the power delivery suits the chassis so well.
The rugged, raspy 955cc twin-cylinder heartbeat has undergone an overhaul with revised intake ducts to improve efficiency and four new injectors (two per cylinder) but its compact design within the monocoque acting as a stressed member, i.e. it becomes part of the frame as opposed to having lower rails and a tubular structure surrounding it, means the dimensions of the bike are pretty compact, so while the seat height is up there at 840mm, actually the step-over is narrow.
Speaking of compact, impressively, despite the neater exhaust routed entirely underneath the engine with two larger catalytic convertors inside the silencer, the Panigale now meets Euro 5 emissions limits and what’s more, Ducati has simultaneously increased its performance without resorting to expanding the engine capacity. The free revving motor spins up fast. A 7,000rpm warble from this L-twin arrangement feels a little like how 4,000rpm does from an in-line four. Then when driving hard out of a slower corner with the twist grip pulled right back, the revs soar towards that peak power figure at 10,750rpm in harmony with the soulful soundtrack. Like a game of chicken, how late can you leave the marauding rev counter before it knocks on the limiter, and instead find the perfect cue to give the quickshifter a nudge. And that’s all the gear lever needs, just like my courting technique once was, gentle but direct.
Down the 6-speed ‘box at the end of either of the two Jerez straights and you’re dropping three gears, back from 5th to 2nd. 5th to 3rd can be achieved faster than you can say it but a brief pause is required before 2nd is engaged so instead of going pop-pop-pop, it’s more like pop-pop-blink-pop. The EVO2 quick shift system is part of the new and outstanding suite of electronics on the Panigale V2.
Power delivery is smooth, even in Race mode and at the apex of a slow second gear hairpin. As the corners and laps tick by the more faith I put into the mechanical grip, initially believing that even a hint of ham-fistedness may cause a wobble or worse. Then in the faster, constant radius turns in third or fourth I have so much confidence in the stability of the V2 which demonstrates a highly efficient working relationship between engine, electronics, chassis and tyres.
Like the 959 it feels manageable, much more so than any litre sports bike of, say 185bhp+ variety, and I can only professionally assume that because its significantly better on track than its predecessor the it’ll be a brilliant machine for the roads too, giving plenty of larger capacity sports bikes the run around on both road and track too. I’m a sports bike fan and I’ve been fortunate enough to test plenty of them on road and track in recent years but the Panigale V2 has its own corner of the market and for what it lacks in out-and-out brute power, it more than makes up for in handling and offering its rider an all-around confidence-inspiring package.
Without doubt, Ducati V2 is a user friendly motorbike around town yet still armed and dangerous when it comes to track use. Ducati’s sole twin-cylinder sportsbike offers its customers a more-than-substantial alternative to those loony machines with double the cylinders and 30% more power.
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